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TATE OF NEW YORK 
DEPARTMENT Of CONSt.RVATtCN 
WATER POWER AND CONTROL 
COMMISSION 


\ 


WITHDRAWAL OF 
GROUND WATER ON 
lONG ISLAND, N. Y. 


. ."". 


PREPARED BY THE STAFF OF JAMAICA OFFICE OF THE WATER POWER 
AND CONTROL COMMISSION UNDER THE DIRECTION OF 
ARTHUR H. JOHNSON; ASSOCIATE ENGINEER 


BULLETIN GW-28 
SUPPLEMENT TO GW-1 PUBLISHED IN 1936 
1952 




NEW YORK STATE 
WATER POWER AND CONTROL COMMISSION 


COMMISSION ERS 


PERRY B. DURYEA .......,.................... Conservation Commissioner, Chairman 


BERTRAM D. TA
LAMY .......................,........ Superintendent of Public Works 


NATHANIEL L. GOLDSTEIN 


Attorney-General 


JOHN C. THOMPSON ....,......... ..,...'..."..., Executive Engineer and Secretary 


ARTHUR H. JOHNSON ,.,.,...,............. Associate Engineer, Long Island Office 


OFFICES 
110 STATE STREET, ALBANY 7, NEW YORK 
90-79 SUTPHIN BOULEVARD, JAMAICA 2, NEW YORK 




FOREWORD 


In 1936 the report "Withdrawal of ground water on Long Island, 
N. Y.", by David G. Thompson and R. M, Leggette was released as Bulletin 
GW-1. This was the first of a series of ground-water bulletins published by 
the Water Power and Control Commission of the State of 
ew York, in co- 
operation with the United States Geological Survey, and with Nassau and 
Suffolk counties. 


Bulletin GW-1 contained and analyzed a chronological review of the 
withdrawals of water, for public water supply purposes, from 1904 to 1934 
inclusive, in Kings, Queens and Nassau counties, according to various 
source formations. Bulletin GW -28 is essentially a supplement to Bulletin 
GW-1 bringing the earlier information up to date through 1950. Full 
recognition and acknowledgement must be given to the earlier work of Mr. 
Thompson and Mr. Leggette. 


WATER POWER AND CONTROL COMMISSION 


Jamaica, New York 
December, 1951 


Hi 



CONTENTS 


Page 
Foreword . _...........,........... _...".,.......... _..,' _ _.. _..,...".................,....................... .-. iii 
Introduction . __ _ _.. __..............,... _.........,... __......., __........... _ _:...,........................... 1 
Water-bearing formations ........................,.....,.....,..,.............,......,..,............ 1 
Use of ground water ,... _...................................."......................................... 1 
Scope and accuracy of data ....................................,..................................... 2 
Changes in rate of withdrawal since 1904 ........___.._.................................... 3 
Withdrawal by New York City compared with other public water-sup- 
ply systems .........,................,................................................................. 6 
Withdrawals from the different source formations ............................__.. 9 


ILLUSTRATIONS 


Page 


Table 
1. Average daily withdrawal of water for public supply in Kings, 
Queens and Nassau counties, New York ........................_........... 4 
2. Average daily withdrawal of water for public supply from 
different formations in Kings, Queens and Nassau counties, 
New York _ _,....._............ _.... _.... ....... .................,., ...... ....... _..,.. _.,........ 7 


Figure 
1. Graphs showing average daily withdrawal of water for public 
supply in Kings, Queens and Nassau counties, New York ........ 5 
2. Graphs showing average daily withdrawal of water for public 
supply in Kings, Queens and Nassau counties, New York, by 
New York ,City and other systems .......... __............... __............... 8 
3. Graphs showing average daily withdrawal of water for public 
supply from different formations in Kings, Queens and Nas- 
sau counties, New York ..........................................__............._...... 10 
3A. Graphs showing average daily withdrawal of water for public 
supply from different formations in Kings, Queens and Nas- 
sau counties, New York-continued from 3 ................................ 11 
4. Graphs showing percentage of water for public supply de- 
rived from different formations in Kings, Queens and Nassau 
counties, New York ........................................................................ 12 
5. Map of Kings, Queens and Nassau counties, New York, show- 
ing percentage of withdrawal of water from different forma- 
tions at public supply pumping stations for 1950 ....................Back 


iv 



WITHDRAWAL OF GROUND WATER ON LONG ISLAND, 
NEW YORK 


BY ARTHUR H. JOHNSON AND W. G. WATERMAN 


INTRODUCTION 


The first inhabitants of Long Island presumably used the water resources readily avail- 
able to them in the ponds and springs. With the coming of white settlers and the development 
of villages and cities the use of water increased, necessitating the construction of supply 
systems to meet the demand. Data concerning the supply for such systems secured from wells 
and infiltration galleries have been studied for many years. The large growth in Long Is- 
land's population, especially during the past decade, has materially increased the value of its 
underground water resources. 
The drought and unusually hot sumn1er of 1949, which placed New York City's public 
water supply in jeopardy, focused the attention of many localities on the possible plight of 
that city. New York City's problem has resulted in a stimulated interest of the general public 
regarding water supply matters and has made the people aware of the fact that water sup- 
plies are not inexhaustible. Therefore, it appears to be an opportune time to issue a new 
bulletin which will add to the GW-l material and provide additional factual data from 1904 
through 1950. 


WATER-BEARING FORMATIONS 


In GW-l the water-bearing beds under Long Island were divided into three major 
groups based on the geologic age of the formation. Generally these are represented by the 
shallow, intermediate and deep water-bearing beds. As the further development of wells pro- 
gresses and additional information becomes available, it appears desirable, starting with 1950, 
t.o consider the water-bearing formations as consisting of four major groups, namely: upper 
Pleistocene (Glacial), Jameco, Magothy (upper Cretaceous) and Lloyd (lower Cretaceous). 
During previous years the last two formations referred to were considered essentially as one 
aquifer. Figure 4 indicates the percentage of water which has been pumped for public supply 
from surface sources and from the different underground aquifers. The division into the four 
aquifers is shown for 1950 only. 


USE OF GROUND WATER 


The underground water beds on the island are of primary importance as sources of 
public water supply and public water supply systems are the largest distributors of that water. 
In Kings and Queens counties the supply of water for domestic consumption, with the excep- 
tion of a few small scattered wells, is obtained from public water supply systems. In Nassau 
county a small proportion of the domestic supply is secured from private individual wells. 
Because of the more rural nature of Suffolk county, a somewhat greater proportion of the 



domestic supply comes from a large number of small private wells. Kings and Queens coun- 
ties have a large industrial use of water but agricultural use in these counties is negligible. 
Nassau county has nearly completed its transition from an agricp.ltural to an industrial and 
residential area. 'Consequently its agricultural use of water has greatly diminished and the 
combined domestic and industrial use is increasing. Suffolk county has not yet felt the impact 
of such a transition but the farm land is now more extensively cultivated. The practice of ir- 
rigation by the use of well water has increased in large proportions during the past four' 
years. Estimated public water supply pumpage in Suffolk county during 1950 was 24 million 
gallons per day, practically all of which was secured from wells put down in the Glacial forma- 
tion. 


Pumpage figures from wells for domestic use in that portion of New York City sit- 
uated on Long Island do not represent a true picture of the total consumption. About four- 
fifths of the public water supply used in Kings and Queens counties is secured from the New 
York City upstate collection system. Based on the 1950 census, the total 'population of Kings 
and Queens counties is approximately 4,300,000. The amount of water furnished by water 
utilities for domestic purposes in these counties during 1950 was at a rate of about 432 
million gallons daily, of which about 93 million gallons daily was obtained from wells, infiltra- 
tion galleries or ponds on Long Island. Thus the equivalent of about 925,000 of this popula- 
tion secures its water from Long Island sources, about half of which are located in Nassau 
county. 
Since the publication of Bulletin GW-l in 1936 the Flatbush plant of the New York 
Water Service Corporation, serving a thickly settled area in the center of Kings county, was 
taken over in 1947 by condemnation by the City of New York. All wells formerly supplying 
this area were abandoned as sources of a public water supply about June 30, 1947. This 
corporation, however, continues to operate its W oodhaven plant in the southwestern part of 
Queens county. The Jamaica Water Supply Company furnishes water to a territory in the 
south-central portion of Queens county. These two concerns are the only private water sup- 
ply companies now operating within the boundaries of New York City. Both companies 
obtain their entire supply from Long Island ground-water sources. 
In Nassau county the population has increased from 300,000 in 1930 to 666,000 in 
1950. Suffolk county's 1930 population of 160,000 has increased to 272,000 in 1950. The 
residents of both Nassau and Suffolk counties are entirely dependent on ground-water for 
their public supply. 
The text of Bulletin GW-l included some estimates on the total withdrawal of ground 
water from Kings, Queens and Nassau counties, together with statements on the probable per- 
iod of maximum use. Since GW-l was published and especially during the past few years, 
additional data have been collected through surveys, field inspections, pumpage reports, in- 
stallations of meters, etc. The figures now available embody a considerable volume of addi- 
tional data so that the included tabulations are probably far more accurate than former es- 
timates. Present data indicate the maximum average daily withdrawal of ground water on 
Long Island occurred in 1949, when it totalled 271 million gallons. This average daily figure 
consists of 61 million gallons in industrial pumpage, 190 million gallons in private and pub- 
lic water supply pumpage and 20 million gallons for agricultural purposes. 


SCOPE AND ACCURACY OF DATA 



 


The data published in GW-l covering the period from 1904 to 1934 are reprinted herein 
and the scope and probable accuracy of those figures are as outlined in that bulletin. Because 
of the more accurate information recently obtained, it is now believed that some of these 
former figures probably were too high. There is no proof of this probability and even if re- 
visions were made in accordance with present beliefs, the changes would not materially affect 
the over-all picture. 
The additional data presented in this bulletin have been compiled from reports filed 
periodically with the Commission by various concerns, from field investigations by the Com- 
mission's engineers, officials of the United States Geological Survey and Nassau and Suffolk 
county authorities or employees, from information furnished by water supply organizations 


2 



and other published reports. In a few instances it has been necessary to estimate amounts of 
pumpage. These estimates are not large enough to influence substantially the accuracy.of the 
final t.otals, if it later should be shown that the results are incorrect. 


CHANGES IN RATE OF WITHDRAWAL SINCE 1904 


Table No. 1 shows the average daily withdrawal in Kings, Queens and Nassau counties 
from 1904 to 1950, inclusive, and Figure 1 shows the same data graphically. The variations 
in the total withdrawals through 1934 have been commented on in detail in Bulletin GW-l. 
The variations from 1934 to 1942 appear to be minor and might be classed primarily as sea- 
sonal or as a result of fluctuations in industrial activity. In November 1942 the demand for 
water in the City of New York dropped sufficiently so that the city stopped pumping from its 
Long Island wells. Except for minor amounts secured in June and July of 1943, the city did 
not resume general pumping until September of that 
Tear. This would account at least in 
part for the drop shown in 1943. In April 1944, New York City began to take some water 
from the new Delaware system (Rondout). Variations in the draft by New York City from 
Long Island from that point through 1950 are caused mainly by precipitation and the operat- 
ing method followed by the city's water supply authorities. The choice of sources, of course, 
is influenced by the availability of water in the various reservoirs and the economics of secur- 
ing the supply from the different portions of the system. 
New York City has at times obtained water from Long Island at the rate of 100 million 
gallons daily. This amount constitutes a substantial proportion of the total Long Island 
consump ion and, therefore, the city's pumpage has a noticeable effect in Table 1. 
The graphs accompanying this report do not include industrial pump age which was 
estimated at 64.1 million gallons daily during 1950, of which 28.4 million gallons were secured 
in Kings, 14.5 million gallons in Queens, 8.8 million gallons in Nassau and 12.4 million gallons 
in Suffolk. This industrial estimate includes institutions whose use in Kings, Queens and 
Nassau is negligible but amounts to 4.6 million gallons daily in Suffolk. The addition of in- 
dustrial pumpage would obviously have a considerable effect on the shape or form of this 
chart. 


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WITHDRAWAL BY NEW YORK CITY COMPARED WITH 
OTHER WATER SUPPLY SYSTEMS 


The comparison of New York City's withdrawal of water from Long Island with the 
amounts used by all other public supply systems on Long Island, which was initially discussed 
in GW-l, has been continued by Table No.2 and graphically by Figure 2. This graph shows 
wide fluctuations in the amounts used by New York City. The other public supply systems 
show an approximately uniform gradual increase in the amounts of water used from 1904 
through 1950 for Queens and Nassau counties. Kings county similarly increased up to 1947 
when pumpage from public supply wells ceased as New York City condemned the Flatbush 
plant of the New York Water Service Corporation. 
Both Nassau and Queens counties show a greater use of water in 1949 than in 1950, 
probably because of the very hot dry summer in 1949 which was followed in 1950 by a sum- 
mer of more nearly normal temperatures and precipitation. 
Of special interest in the present situation, is the so-called ground-water "crater" in 
parts of Kings and Queens counties, as outlined in Bulletin GW -2. This undesirable depres- 
sion was caused by withdrawing from the ground, more water than was replaced by rainfall. 
GW -2 showed the deepest part of this hollow was 35 feet below mean sea level in Kings and 
the depression of the ground-water table below mean sea level was widespread throughout 
Kings county and extended into Queens county. Since April 28, 1933, the Water Power and 
Control Commission has required the return of a very large percentage of the industrial well 
water in all four Long Island counties to the formation from which it was pumped, by means 
of diffusion wells or other approved structures. This, plus the shutdown of the Flatbush 
wells, has caused the ground-water table to rise in some sections of Brooklyn as much as 15 
feet. The upward trend is continuing. The water table is now back to or above mean sea 
level in most of Queens county and has also risen substantially in most of Kings county. Event- 
ually it is hoped that a large proportion of this area will have a ground-water table with an 
elevation approximating that which originally existed around 1903. One small zone in Kings 
county still has a ground-water level about 30 feet below sea level due to heavy localized in- 
dustrial pump age. As a large number of the industrial wells, particularly in this area, were 
installed 'prior to the Commission's jurisdiction under the present law, it has been generally 
impossible to require such concerns to install diffusion wells- to return uncontaminated waste 
water into the ground. 
On July 1, 1950, New'York City established a sewer tax which requires certain pay- 
ments to the city for all waste waters discharged into its sewerage system. This tax applies 
not only to water secured from the city's public water supply system but also to all well wa- 
ter which is disposed of after use into the sewers. The tax, which amounts to thousands of 
dollars for some of the larger industries, is a powerful incentive for such plants to return wa- 
ter to the ground by diffusers. 


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WITHDRAWALS FROM THE DIFFERENT SOURCE FORMATIONS 


Withdrawal from the different source formations is shown numerically on the tabula- 
tions, graphically on Figures 3 and 3A, and by percentages on Figure 4. The reasons enum- 
erated in GW -1 which explain why such a subdivision into the different source formations 
was only approximate in the earlier years also apply to the additional data now being pre- 
sented in this report. Also as stated in GW -1 it is probable that the so-called pond water oc- 
curring on the island is really from the upper Pleistocene aquifer. Therefore, it might be cor- 
rect to combine the upper Pleistocene and pond water figures on the tabulations and graphs. 
Figure 3 shows that the largest quantity of water drawn for public supply in each of 
the three western counties has come from the upper Pleistocene formation. There has been 
no draft from this aquifer since 1947 in Kings county due to cessation of pumpage at the 
Flatbush plant of the New York "Vater Service Corporation. In Queens county the with- 
drawal has been fairly uniform since 1934, with the upper Pleistocene averaging about 25 
million, the Jameco 5 million, and the Cretaceous 12 million gallons daily. Nassau county 
shows more marked changes due principally to the variation in the amount of New York 
City's pumpage, the doubling of Nassau county's population and an influx of industry. The 
total of water in that county from the Jameco formation has remained practically uniform 
for the 1936-51 period. The quantity of water secured from the Nassau county Cretaceous 
formation has shown a steady increase for the 1933-50 period. In 1930 approximately 18 
million gallons were being used daily from this formation and in 1950 about 45 million gal- 
lons were pumped daily. This increase ties in directly with the population of Nassau county. 
In the future it is not improbable that these deeper formations will be the principal sources 
of supply. The shallow aquifers may not be able to meet the increased demands of this rap- 
idly developing territory and may become contaminated by the disposal of sewage into cess- 
pools 0 by salt water intrusion. 



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Table 5 shows approximately the average daily withdrawal and the location of well 
fields, at each of the public water supply pumping stations in the three western counties in 
1950. A similar map appears in GW -1 for the year 1930. The most striking difference be- 
tween the two maps is the cessation of practically all pumping for public water supply pur- 
poses in Kings county. Another striking difference is the marked increase as shown on the 
1950 map in the amount of public water supply for practically each of the Nassau county vil- 
lages. This increase, of course, has been caused primarily by the doubling of the county's 
population between 1930 and 1950. A further difference which can be deduced from com- 
parison of the 1930 and 1950 maps, is the conversion of former farm land into the residential 
area which has been developed into the Levittown Water District. 


13